Tuesday, 25 April, 2017

Racing 92 and Stade Francais to merge from next season

Racing Metro and Stade Francais set to merge next season as Top 14's two biggest Parisian clubs decide to join forces Racing 92 and Stade Francais to merge into one club from 2017/18 season in radical Top 14 shake-up
Saul Franklin | 16 March, 2017, 00:47

Racing beat Toulon previous year to win the French Top 14 title in front of a record crowd of more than 90,000 fans in Barcelona's Camp Nou stadium.

Players' union chief Robins Tchale-Watchou, a former Stade Francais player now at Montpellier, said the presidents of the two clubs owed explanations to the players.

The action comes a day after Racing's billionaire owner Jacky Lorenzetti and Stade Francais counterpart Thomas Savare made the bombshell announcement.

An LNR statement said: 'The project to bring together the professional sections of the Stade Francais Paris and Racing 92 is provoking numerous reactions, questions and concerns, both on the social and cultural impacts linked to this rapprochement and on the sporting consequences on the Top 14.

"In a climate of tension, you must leave room for dialogue, but the condition of the players for the notice of strike to be lifted is that there is the definitive and total stop of this merger plan".

It remains to be seen what this means for the respective playing and coaching staff of both clubs, including that of former Munster and Ireland global, Ronan O'Gara.

The plan was hatched in secret behind the back of the players, French worldwide Jonathan Danty said earlier Tuesday.

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Racing are now eighth in the 14-team French league, with Stade struggling in 11th place. As teams are subject to a monthly salary cap, the new club will have to let some top talent go, leaving players and staff looking for new jobs three months before the end of the season.

Due to play this weekend against Castres, it looks like Stade will not fulfill the fixture as a result of the strike.

Stade have six league games left this season. Pascal Pape, one of the most senior players in the team announced that the team are to go on strike as a result of the move.

It has previously been revealed that the 40-year-old's future at the club could be in doubt following the news that current Racing flanker Chris Masoe is set to join the coaching ranks at the club, potentially taking over as skills coach and also having input into defensive strategy.

"Of course there is the financial aspect to it, which is very important but there is a positive side of combining forces so we can win titles", Pool-Jones said.

"Both clubs have got a huge history in French rugby and Stade Francais have won the title many times, they have a massive tradition just like Racing".

"Strengthened by our double culture, by the stanch wise of its two presidents and the support of an unprecedented catchment area in France, this new club's long-term mission is to grow into a real reference".

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